Monitoring project for Isahaya Bay coordinated with WWD


Minoru Kashiwagi of the Tokyo Office of the Japan Wetlands Action Network (JAWAN) (fax +81 425 83 6365, e-mail has asked that the following project, to be coordinated with World Wetlands Day 1998, be communicated to the Ramsar community around the world.

WWF Japan is planning a Monitoring Tour on Saunders Gulls and Shorebirds around the shore of Ariake Sea in Kyushu Island in Japan from 30 January to 6 February 1998, and a press release explaining the project will be issued to coordinate with World Wetlands Day, 2 February, in order to raise public awareness of the importance of the issues involved.

As you might have been informed, a part but not the least of the Ariake Sea, Isahaya Bay, was closed by a 7 km seawall constructed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery on 14 April 1997. It has been one of the largest and richest staging site of migratory birds with an incredible amount of benthic and other organisms like mollusks and fishes. The amount of dead shellfish that came out months after the closing was beyond the imagination of any specialists working on the sites. With so rich a provision, Isahaya Bay has recorded the largest count of shorebirds (9,424 in Spring 1996, "Wetland Directory of Shorebirds", Environment Agency of Japan, September, 1997). And for Saunders' Gull, many volunteer birdwatchers have participated in a counting project carried out on the coast from Hong Kong to Korean Peninsula until now. The result of counting gave an average of 252.5 individuals counted in Isahaya Bay during 1994 to 97 out of the world total number of about 3,000 (BirdLife International).

The monitoring tour projected for 1998 is to count the number of Saunders Gulls and shorebirds on the neighboring shores after the closing of Isahaya Bay, in order to obtain data of wintering birds around the area and get some idea on the influence of closing of the tidal flat.

Monitoring is planned to be carried out by two WWF-Japan staffs, HANAWA Shinichi, MIMA Junkichi, and myself as a volunteer from Japan Wetlands Action Network . It is not an event with a large number of people. But it is an event of monitoring a wetland and a search for a wise use of wetland of Ariake Bay including recovery of Isahaya Bay.

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